Purchase Orders Revisited

This post originally appeared on the blog My Words for a Change and it is republished with permission.

Way back in 2015, I asked my blog readers whether the purchase order I’d produced was merely a pipe dream or a document I could actually use with my clients. The general consensus was that my overly long PO would prove daunting for direct clients and unnecessary for agencies. After tweaking it a bit based on the many suggestions I received, I instead came up with a purchase order checklist. The idea was to fill it in ourselves using the information we gleaned in negotiations with clients and for it to be a handy reminder of what questions we should be asking.

However, I have to admit this hasn’t always been my approach as I have given it to direct clients for two main reasons. Firstly, it serves as a more formal record of the provision of services than an email exchange, especially as I’ve included a link to my privacy notice and to the ITI terms and conditions. And secondly, clients can also provide me with the details I need to perform that service better.

I always fill in as much of the document as I can before giving it to clients and, before today’s brainwave, I put “N/A” where possible because some of the lines were irrelevant for the requested service. Then it occurred to me that it would be far better to create separate model purchase orders for every service I provide. (It’s only taken me nearly five years to think of this. Better late than never I suppose!)

Consequently, I now have four slightly different versions of the original purchase order. They are for: translation; revision; editing; and localisation into UK English. I’ve differentiated between revision and editing as I do a lot of editing of academic papers that have been written by non-native speakers directly into English (or so the client tells me, which is why I have included a question on whether MT has been used).

As before, I’d be grateful for your comments. You can download the files from the following links:

Purchase Order for Translation

Purchase Order for Revision

Purchase Order for Editing

Purchase Order for Localisation into UK English

If you decide to use the files with your own clients, don’t forget that you can’t link to the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting) terms and conditions unless you’re a member. And you’ll also have to change the link to your own privacy notice (although please feel free to copy any parts of mine you wish).

Author bio:

Nikki Graham is a Spanish-to-English translator and reviser specialising in leisure, tourism, hospitality andacademic articles (social sciences and humanities). She also does editingand localisation work. After passing the ITI exam in the subject of leisure and tourism in 2015, she became a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (MITI). In 2018 she attained the ‘Qualified’ status for ISO 17100:2015, the internationally recognised standard for translation services. Nikki is also a member of Mediterranean Editors and Translators (MET) and ProCopywriters. You can find her blog, My Words for a Change, at https://nikkigrahamtranix.com/blog.

Six International Language Associations to Join

Language associations are a great way to connect with people of different backgrounds who share a similar appreciation for learning foreign languages. By joining a language association, you have the opportunity to engage with speakers at various levels of proficiency and practice your language skills with native speakers. You’re probably already familiar with the American Translators Association since this blog is run by ATA volunteers, but what about other international associations for languages?

Learning a new language can be very difficult and it’s also a challenge to maintain proficiency. Language associations allow you to stay proficient in the languages you have worked so hard to master while also connecting with new people.

If you’re looking to improve and increase your foreign language skills, take a look at these six international language associations you should join!

  1. The International Language Association (ICC)

The International Certificate Conference (ICC) is a non-government organization that sets the standards for a transnational network of language learners. This international language association offers foreign language teaching and learning with exchange of ideas and culture.

This association provides the following to its learners:

  • Proven expertise in projects
  • Quality assurance
  • Networking
  • Theory and practice
  • Personal development
  • Independent voice

As a platform for ideas, projects, teachers, and courses, the ICC encourages research and development in language teaching by collaboration. In addition, the ICC has a local impact, representing the field of language learning and teaching, and promotes quality in both aspects.

  1. American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is committed to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at varying levels of instruction. Established in 1967, this organization now has over 13,000 members including language educators and administrators ranging from elementary through graduate education, with some holding positions in government and industry.

The ACTFL strives to advance the value of world languages and empower learners to become linguistically and culturally competent through the following strategic priorities:

  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Outreach and advocacy
  • Teacher recruitment and retention
  • Professional development
  • Research

If you’re looking to make your mark on the language education field, become a member of the ACTFL today.

  1. Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL)

The Association of Departments of Foreign Language (ADFL) supports the language, literature, and cultural studies communities in the United States and Canada. This association has a broad range of members, with representatives of departments and programs in diverse languages at postsecondary institutions.

The ADFL membership base provides a network to review the issues faced by language-related humanities fields and works to develop solutions and fieldwide policies. Through seminars, journals, discussion lists, and their website, the ADFL provides a forum for collegial exchange about important issues and legislation that affects the field of work.

Looking to find out more information about the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages? Check out the ADFL website.

  1. The Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations (AFMLTA)

The Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations (AFMLTA) is a professional body that represents educators of all languages in Australia. This association strives to provide vision, leadership, representation, advocacy, and support for promoting quality foreign language teaching and learning.

The AFMLTA strategic plan outlines actions they intend to complete in order to achieve their goals and support their members in the following key areas:

  • Member services
  • Governance and operations
  • Leadership and representation
  • Research and professional practice

For additional information on the AFMLTA and membership opportunities, contact the AFMLTA team.

  1. Association for Language Learning (ALL)

The Association for Language Learning (ALL) is an independent registered charity and the United Kingdom’s major subject association for individuals involved in the teaching of foreign language at varying levels of proficiency. It is their goal to represent and support language teachers and their ongoing professional development. The ALL supports their members by offering opportunities to access local, regional, and national training or networking events.

Founded in 1990, ALL is run by teachers for teachers and consists of thousands of members across the United Kingdom and further afield. To learn more about how the Association for Language Learning can help to improve your foreign language skills, check out the ALL website.

  1. Association of University Language Centers (AULC)

The Association of University Language Centers (AULC) is an organization for staff working in language departments and centers located in the United Kingdom and Ireland. With approximately 70 universities as current members, the AULC provides opportunities for networking for all staff involved in management, teaching, and resources.

The major goals of the association include:

  • To encourage and foster good practice and innovation in language learning and teaching
  • Effective resource management and administration
  • To conduct regular meetings to facilitate discussion and an exchange of information on the diverse activities hosted by the various language centers
  • To facilitate contacts with university departments internationally
  • To monitor emerging international and national language standards and work to develop quality assurance mechanisms

To learn more about their membership guidelines, check out the AULC site.

About the author

Molly Downey works with the Kent State Master of Arts in Translation program. This department provides a variety of courses in foreign languages, cultures, and literatures.  

Becoming a Legal Translator

This post originally appeared on Capital Translations and it is republished with permission.

Unless you have studied Law, it is rather tricky to know how to specialise in legal translation, let alone find relevant high-calibre training. Fortunately, Roehampton University’s symposium on Friday 9th January 2015 on becoming a legal translator addressed many of the issues concerning the best ways to acquire the wealth of knowledge and skills that are vital for this crucial sector of the industry. Here are some concise ideas from the programme highlights for those seeking to enter the specialism.

 Professionalising legal translation – do or die

The conference took place on a bright and crisp winter day, with the first seminar by Juliette Scott. Although the title of her talk might have been a tad dramatic, Juliette quite rightly highlighted the problem that legal translation is not viewed as a profession compared with an airline pilot or doctor, for example, based on criteria including public recognition, monopoly over work and a regulatory body, all of which are lacking in this case; threats to the occupation were identified, such as machine translation, press coverage and translators themselves.

A quote by Lanna Castellano (1988) nevertheless laid out the reality of a legal translator’s career: “Our profession is based on knowledge and experience. It has the longest apprenticeship of any profession. Not until thirty do you start to be useful as a translator; not until fifty do you start to be in your prime.”

The decisive role of academia was brought up, in particular the fact that academics can contribute to improving practice, developing innovations, transmitting knowledge and providing theoretical and professional training.

Juliette’s seminar was not short of polemic questions: how do we regulate legal translation? Should CPD be mandatory and who would oversee it? But the presentation provided clarity over many aspects, namely that the best legal translators are lawyers who have become linguists or linguists who have gone on to study law. Regardless of one’s exact career path, legal translators are themselves responsible for making their profession a profession, one of Juliette’s recurring point being it is ‘us not them’. Specifically, we need to be outward-looking and be mindful of how we dress, how we position ourselves, how our workplace is arranged and how our websites and marketing materials come across.

Finally, Juliette provided a perfect 12-step plan to professionalising legal translation:

  1. Define our status: in person, online and in print
  2. Assuage our passion for CPD
  3. Make professional bodies work for us
  4. Use Codes of Conduct as support
  5. Acquire prestige and remuneration through our actions and reactions
  6. Turn fragmentation into a strong community
  7. If academia doesn’t address our needs, let’s go into academia
  8. Support regulation
  9. Get our faces out there
  10. Change terminology (from resource/freelancer to practitioner/professional)
  11. Make sure we get the proper brief from our clients
  12. Remember it’s about us not them

The reflective translator: planning and implementing a CPD programme for legal translation

If there was one seminar that delegates could come away from thinking ‘okay, now I know what I need to do to become a legal translator’, Karen Stokes was the one to provide it.

Starting by discussing the CPD cycle (right), Karen highlighted the prime resources for translators to utilise in their quest to specialise in legal translation, the first ports of call comprising the likes of Coursera, Open University OpenLearn and FutureLearn, with examples of more specialised sources being the Law Society Gazette, the Institute of Advance Legal Studies and Lexoligy.

Naturally, professional bodies often run specialised legal courses in association with solicitors or lawyer-linguists and it is always worth remembering to check those professional bodies in the countries of your source languages, such as the BDÜ for German.

A resource raised by a delegate was Counsel, the monthly Journal of the Bar of England and Wales. Largely written by and for barristers, the magazine is to solicitors what the ITI Bulletin is to translators, featuring items of relevance to all those with an interest in the law.

How functional can/should legal translation be? 

Legal translation is the “ultimate linguistic challenge […] combining the inventiveness of literary translation with the terminological precision of technical translation,” stated Łucja Biel of the University of Warsaw, opening with a quote from Harvey (2002), but it is nonetheless an ultimate intellectual reward.

Łucja’s workshop was a rollercoaster ride through the ups and downs, and ins and outs of the field. Firstly the challenges, which can be categorised as legal system-specific (e.g. incongruity of legal terms and difference between legal systems), language-specific (e.g. semantic differences between languages) and translation-specific (e.g. constraints of bilingual processing such as interference, simplification and explicitation). Thus, in the case of translation into or out of English, legal translation is often an operation between two languages as well as two legal systems (the judge-made common law in the England and Wales – which places importance on precedents – versus the code-made civil law on the European continent – which gives more weight to statutes), perhaps somewhat mitigated by the harmonisation of law within the European Union.

The debate of accuracy versus naturalness was broached, with delegates being introduced to clear references citing the importance of how accuracy should take precedence over style in legal translation, in other words substance over form.

The majority of legal translations are non-authoritative – merely informing about the content of the source text – but it is naturally vital for translators to know when a legal translation is intended to be authoritative, as such target texts are as equally authentic as source texts and vested with the force of law, as is the case in multilingual countries and organisations.

According to Šarčević, the ideal legal translator should have: thorough knowledge of legal terminology and legal reasoning between the source and target legal systems; the ability to solve legal problems, analyse legal texts and foresee text construal; and possess drafting skills and a basic knowledge of comparative law and methods. Alas such a translator does not, or at the very least is unlikely to, exist. Lifelong learning is therefore required.

“An acceptable legal translation is one that contains correctly translated terms, utterances that have been translated correctly according to their pragmatic function, and textual conventions that are familiar to the intended readers of target texts and conform with target-language genre conventions”

(Nielsen 2010: 33)

In terms of qualifications for legal translators, in the absence of a law degree, the IoLET’s Diploma in Translation was cited as an ideal example given that candidates can sit a legal module.

Łucja proceeded to tackle some of the facets within legal translation that we need to consider, such as the wide usage of synonyms (‘par/nominal/face value, for example), the legal vs. semi-legal nature of terms, variation in terminology for civil and criminal procedure, geographical variations (UK vs. US law or even English and Welsh law vs. Scots law), terms and their collates (such as to bring an action and to file a lawsuit). Delegates were introduced to examples of set legal formula (e.g. in witness whereof), a corresponding formula of which most likely exists in the target language and should be sought.

A more curious aspect of legal language in English is repetitions, such as ‘by and between’, ‘terms and conditions’ and ‘any and all’; translators into English should therefore be aware of such phenomena and use them accordingly. Translators out of English, on the other hand, need to recognise these and more than likely simplify them in their target language, as continental systems avoid synonymy and a redundant translation would be confusing to a continental lawyer. Elements of navigation in legal English were also raised and legal translators should understand the importance and correct usage of terms such as ‘hereinafter’ and ‘thereof’.

A further fundamental aspect of style in legal language is dealing with disjunctive syntax and ordering semantic units logically. This primarily concerns matching prepositional phrases with the nouns and verbs to which they refer, such as ‘receipt of the Order by the Contractor’ being more logical than ‘receipt by the Contractor of the Order’, the latter sounding as if the Contractor belongs to the Order of the Phoenix from the Harry Potter books.

The seminar then dealt with strategies and techniques of legal translation, namely the question of equivalence: functional, descriptive or literal?

Functional equivalence is appropriate where two legal concepts are identical or similar between the two legal systems (such as ‘homicide’) and can be resolved with the approximation of a source term by the corresponding legal term. This is regarded as the ideal solution by many scholars owing to its communicative value.

Descriptive equivalence takes a legal term in the target languages and modifies it to clarify the difference, thereby bridging the knowledge gap. An example would be translating the German ‘Prokurist’ as an ‘authorised signatory’ or a ‘registered holder of power of attorney’.

Literal equivalence is, as the name suggests, a word-for-word translation, calque or a loan translation. This technique is deemed acceptable when the meaning is sufficiently transparent, it coincides with a functional equivalent and when it is not a false friend, such as the Polish ‘użytkowanie wieczyste’ being translated as ‘perpetual usufruct’, an English-language term typically used only by Polish lawyers to describe the Polish version of public ground lease.

Finally we looked at trends in legal translation, notably the fact that demand is expected to increase significantly on account of the mobility of EU citizens and the implementation of an EU directive on the right to translation and interpreting in criminal proceedings. This is coupled with the development of memories, such as the DGT Translation Memory and terminology databases, such as IATE and UNTERM. To put any fears to bed, Łucja asserted that legal translators are unlikely to be replaced by machine translation and post-editors soon, not least because of confidentiality issues and the lack of parallel corpora to train software.

Much like the conclusion to Juliette’s talk, Łucja provide some action points for translators to work towards to specialise law: build up knowledge of the source and target legal systems, terminology, phraseology and style.

Translation for the EU: making the impossible possible

In her overview of legal translation within the context of the European Union, Vilelmini Sosoni presented the either loved or more likely hated phenomenon of Eurospeak in bridging the gap between cultures and expressing new and pan-European concepts through neologisms (newly coined lexical units such as ‘flexicurity’ or existing lexical units that are bestowed a new sense such as ‘cohabitation’) and borrowings (introduction of words from one language to another such as ‘stagiaire’, ‘comitology’ and ‘third country’, all derived from French).

Once again, awareness of principles of concepts in common and civil law was emphasised, but also in this context thorough knowledge of the EU’s Institutions, decision-making and legal framework is required.

Delegates were introduced to the concept of intertextuality, that is the idea that most EU texts are recognised in terms of their dependence on other relevant texts, hence many texts will refer to other decisions, directives, and so on.

One revelation came when Vilelmini explained how EU legislation does not mention the term translation; rather translations are referred to as language versions owing to the principle of linguistic equality, whereby all official EU languages are equal or equally authentic.

Thoughts from the legal translator’s desk

Lawyer-linguist Richard Delaney rounded off the day by delivering some overarching ideas with delightful wit on, above all, client care – namely don’t treat clients like idiots and moan about them on Facebook groups, rather be helpful and go the extra mile – and setting rates – not competing on price in legal translation especially.

Summary

It would not be fair to claim that in 2015 the quantity of CPD courses and training for translators is poor, however we can challenge the quality of it. This full-day symposium on legal translation was one of the highest-quality and best-value-for-money (at £95) professional events that I have ever attended.

Packed full of practical and concrete information, and lacking the theoretical fluff that dominates many CPD events nowadays, I have come away from the conference having satisfied the two objectives that I intended to: understand the primary techniques of tackling legal translations and identify the resources for long-term training to specialise in legal translation, and then some.

If you are thinking of specialising in legal translation and would like to know more about what was learnt from this event, or perhaps you are already a seasoned legal translation and concur with or contest some of the ideas above, please do leave a message below.

Author bio

Lloyd Bingham MITI runs Capital Translations in Cardiff, Wales. He works from Dutch, German, French and Spanish into English, specialising in business, marketing, technology and education.

Lloyd has spoken at various conferences on professional standards in translation and is a tutor on ITI’s Starting Up as a Freelance Translator course.

Translators and Interpreters: The True Influencers

In this article, I will define influencers as those who make change happen, who are catalysts of the developments they seek. In translation and interpreting, that is up to the professionals in the field. This is true of any other profession, since the professionals understand their field best. According to the authors of The General Theory of the Translation Company, we need a bit more debate to move forward as a profession.

The translation profession has advanced since the early days of Saint Jerome and Marco Polo, through the celebrated interpreters of the Nuremberg trials, and the legislative and certification accomplishments our colleagues have led us through in the United States since 1964. At this point, nurses assume healthcare interpreters will be certified, judges assume that interpreters are certified, and contracting officers expect translators to be certified or be able to demonstrate equivalent skills. We have shown that we are professionals.

What are the new challenges that lie ahead, as we work with clients in today’s world?

Due to the limited resources many companies have today, there is a new emphasis on leveraging all the skills employees bring, including their ability to write in languages other than English. That means that translation is not always outsourced to professional translators. We will be asked to review the text that is either translated or written directly in the non-English language by the employees. To be ready for this task, it helps to pick up some editing skills from our colleagues in editing associations such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (for English) or the Spanish Editors Association (for Spanish). Being able to discuss the text from an editor’s point of view will help us in our conversations with clients.

Bilingual employees review our translations for suitability because they are in contact with the public who will use our translations. We need to learn how to respect their point of view and accept some of their input while defending some of our choices.

As interpreters, now that our work is remote, we have different scenarios than we were used to. For example, when we were trying to connect with the Spanish speaker in an attorney-client interview, we realized that the attorney would not be able to dial that specific number. I was able to solve the communication problem by translating a quick email, translating the email with the response, and so on for a couple of hours, the same time I had reserved for the appointment in the first place. I became a transterpreter.

When we are asked to rush through a translation, we need to help our clients understand the risks involved. Can we translate in our sleep? If we ask for help, and we work with a team, then we have to spend some time unifying the text. Partial deliveries of a project can mean that we have to go back and send updated translations. The more our clients understand these issues, the more they support us. I usually tell my clients I will charge them extra for worse quality. They limit the amount of rush translation.

When we interpret on a remote platform, do we ask how we will communicate that it is time for us to say something? Can we turn our cameras on to get their attention when we need to? Do we get the information we need ahead of time to prepare for our interpreting assignments? Even having the material that the attorney will read out loud during the appointment is helpful so we can sight translate and follow along.

How do we prepare to shine tomorrow? Do we watch our health and stamina level and make sure we don’t overextend ourselves? We do very poor work when we are overly tired, and our clients are the first to notice.

How do we manage to keep track of it all? When I studied to be a teacher, my professors told me I could delegate everything that would not have my imprint. Could someone else format our text so we can use a CAT tool? Can someone else do our bookkeeping? Can someone else help us with our website? Can someone else troubleshoot that computer problem we are having? Would that free up our time for translation and interpreting so we can make more money on what we do well?

Do we spend time interacting with our clients so we can know them better? That will help us serve them better and help us be the ones to define our role. By doing that we will learn about interesting learning opportunities at SCORE, at the Chamber of Commerce, at the Oregon Medical Association and other places that might not give us continuing education credits but will make us much better at serving our clients.

Clients are looking for professionals who are certified in what they do, continually improve their craft, and advocate for their profession. That is what accountants, engineers, attorneys and other professionals do. They love it when we tell them, “Sorry, that day I am meeting with some government officials to discuss the profession.” We, the practitioners, define our profession. We move it forward. We, the professionals, go to the halls of government and tell them how we do our work. The future of the profession is in our hands.

Strategies for translation providers in an uncertain world… a survival guide.

This post originally appeared on the blog The translation business and it is republished with permission.

Sometimes, how we translators run our professional lives and operate our businesses seem to be under threat.

Human translators, although usually skeptical, cannot avoid observing the growing influence of machine translation and perhaps wondering how long will it be before a piece of software will put them out of work.

Then there is the emerging spectre of crowd-sourced translation, a phenomenon which is most certainly not going to go away [1].

And what about the sneaking suspicion that perhaps English will ultimately end up as a global lingua franca (at least in commerce and science) making most of the translation work we translators currently do entirely redundant? Certainly many have predicted the ultimate triumph of a single universal world language – from Stalin in the 1950’s [2] to evolutionary biologists today [3].

That change is coming to our profession, I have to say, is not really news to me. In my professional life I’ve seen the profession emerge from a local cottage industry and became a global business. In the space of a few decades translators abandoned their manual typewriters and got plugged into highly connected networks of global proportions. We can be sure that this pace of change is not going to slow down anytime soon.

One of the most insightful commentators on the evolving role of technology in the translation industry, Kirti Vashee, states it point-blank: “It is likely that the professional translation world is going to see significant disruption in the coming years…” [1]

On the upside, however, there has never been a time history when the demand for translation was as great as it is now – and the most informed opinion suggests that demand is going to continue spiralling upwards. CSA puts it this way:

“… the amount of content grows faster than anyone can translate it […] Many organizations throw up their hands in despair, realizing that they don’t have the resources or money to deal with this explosion of content.” [4]

There are simply not enough human translators and clearly machine translation and crowd sourcing are going to play significant roles in an expanding market. But there is also a strong argument that human linguists will play an increasingly important role in the emerging, but differently shaped translation world.

Small to mid-sized translation companies and independent translators are the backbone of the industry – but they are fragmented and are vulnerable to the developing changes. Paying attention to “business survival skills” in a rapidly changing market will be a priority for many.

Chief amongst these skills is maintaining (or increasing) business profitability – whatever happens. There are a number of obvious strategies: adapting to the changes is one and optimising the return from existing resources is another. In this post, I look at one approach to the latter – making better use of the skills and resources translation providers already have.

Making your existing resources more profitable.

Let’s look at how a small, imaginary language service provider, XYZ Translate Ltd, could leverage off its existing resources and become more profitable.

Like most small businesses, XYZ Translate Ltd is subject to the Pareto principle – 80% of its meagre profits come from just 20% of the work it undertakes. That means 80% of the work is often done at a loss or at very low margin. The company is not short of work, but it is frequently so bogged down with work which returns little profit, that they often miss out on better paying work because they can’t deliver to the customer’s time frames.

One trick for XYZ Translate Ltd is to break out of this low-margin trap: this means reducing the volume of low-margin work in order to free up resources for more jobs which return a higher margin.

Easier said than done? And a bit scary?

So let’s imagine that this is what our imaginary LSP did:

Firstly they looked at the margin they made on all the jobs they handled over the past year. Let’s imagine that they discovered that the most profitable work came from a just a couple of clients in a particular sector – let’s say from the waste management industry.

Why was this work so profitable? They got the first job quite by chance, but they realised they really weren’t set up for the task. Knowing that they would have to make a really big effort, they quoted high – and were fortunate to get the job.

But to keep the customer coming

  • They needed to invest a lot of energy into developing the right sort of resources and finding a reliable pool of translators who were (or who would become) experts in the field;
  • They paid the translators well for the work – and in return these specialised translators became very loyal and made themselves (almost) always available for work. This means they could always deliver on time;
  • Because the translators became so familiar with the terminology and were always kept up-to-date with the issues in the waste management industry, the amount of time-consuming research required for each new job was relatively small, and they were able to turn the work around quickly;
  • The project managers knew exactly which translators and revisers were appropriate for these sorts of jobs; glossaries, terminology databases and translation memories were all up-to-date and the translators got to know the style guides backwards.

So the clients in this sector were happy and continued to pay well because there were few issues with the translations and the work is always delivered within deadline.

But while the production processes were highly efficient and the margin on each job was fantastic, the number of jobs they got per month in this sector was tiny!

Just imagine how XYZ Translate’s bottom line would look if they even got one more client in this sector? Or two, three or four?

Pretty much by chance or good fortune, XYZ Translate Ltd had developed a highly efficient process in a very narrow field. The company most certainly didn’t set out to be experts in waste management. They developed a great area of expertise, but they just didn’t have enough customers in the industry sector to make it really pay.

How could XYZ Translate leverage off this expertise?

We might think about XYZ Translate Ltd’s small number of very profitable customers in the waste management sector as reflecting the density of such customers in the area of their marketing reach. (Not all firms in the sector would be willing to pay the sort of premium that XYZ Translate charges for the work.) To find more customers who want just the sort of service that XYZ Translate Ltd can deliver, they need to expand the reach of their marketing…

… they just need a bigger market!

The laws of probability are such that there are most certainly more customers “out there somewhere” who will be willing to pay a premium for just the sort of excellent service XYZ Translate Ltd has to offer. But expanding the size of the catchment area to find those elusive “ideal customers” is a serious marketing problem – and that costs. Tracking them down and making the sale can be an expensive exercise – especially if those new potential customers are “somewhere out there” in a different city or a different country, or in a different time zone…

LSPs like XYZ Translate Ltd usually don’t have the financial or marketing resources to assess a global market in order to target a relatively small set of more profitable customers. Every LSP and freelancer has some unique strength, skill set or a combination of different factors that will attract customers who are looking precisely for what they have to offer – if the market is big enough. As localisation sales and marketing veteran, Jessica Rathke puts it:

“Each company has its own unique aspects, be it a vertical specialization such as life sciences or legal translation.  Each company has its own history (or not), unique set of employees and unique client base.  The uniqueness in any of these areas can be exploited and communicated that will give the target audience a feel for your organization, company ethos or methodology that distinguishes your company from another.” [5]

A clear and obvious survival strategy for translation providers like XYZ Translate is to differentiate from their competitors by leveraging off what they can already do well and most profitably.

Notes:

[1] Kirti Vashee (2011), Translation Crowdsourcing,  http://kv-emptypages.blogspot.com/2011/08/translation-crowdsourcing.html

[2]  Stalin “foresaw the merger of zonal languages, into a ‘common international language which naturally will not be either German or Russian or English, but a new language embodying in itself the best elements of national and zonal languages’”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/aug/02/archive-stalin-and-soviet-state

[3]  The Guardian: Biologist Mark Pagel argues that humanity’s destiny is to become one world with one language. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/aug/04/1

[4] Donald A. DePalma and Nataly Kelly (2009), The Business Case for Machine Translation, Common Sense Advisory, Inc., Lowell, Massachusetts, USA.

[5] Jessica Rathke, (2011), Is Differentiation in the Localization Industry Possible?http://l10nsalesandmarketing.blogspot.com/2011/02/is-differentiation-in-localization.html